By Paul Gover.
Life with a supercar isn’t always as good as it looks.
How many times do you want to sit in front of the lights, quietly go about your business, while someone nearby fills their smartphone’s memory with images?
And what about wannabes who fancy a drag race behind the wheel of their homemade drummer?
And then there’s the need for a special place, most likely a racetrack, to properly exercise a car that’s likely to exceed Australia’s 100kph limit in first gear.
Once you get past the gee-whizzy sights and sounds that dominate any drive in a Lamborghini or Ferrari, well…
They are difficult to park. Cabin access is tight and messy for anyone with a few years on their bones, and they love gas like a politician loves a debate.
It’s true that Ferrari and Lamborghini owners, and I’m not remotely qualified, are likely to have something much more mundane in the garage for their daily driving. Maybe a Bentley…
But there is an antidote to the supercar strain.
It’s called the McLaren GT and it’s a daily driver as well as an exotic speed machine.
Just had a week with a GT in the UK and have very few complaints – other than knowing that it will cost $400,000 to park one in my garage.
It’s not a traditional GT as there isn’t even a dream of rear seats and luggage space is cramped, but it’s a car to be enjoyed over the long haul.
Yes, it can – and will – accelerate at a blistering pace, going from a 0-60 mph sprint in 3.2 seconds to a top speed of 326 km/h (203 miles per hour). hour) and turns like a white line painted on the road.
But the GT is equally comfortable when cruising steadily at 110 km/h, or relaxing on a narrow country road, with the ability for the occasional blat to clear its cylinders and the driver’s head.
Confessions first, because I’ve been a McLaren booster ever since I drove the company’s original supercar, the 12C, shortly after its world debut. It helped that McLaren welcomed me to Dunsfold Aerodrome, a desert airfield that’s best known for the Top Gear test track and The Stig’s hot laps.
I was captivated by the car’s understated design, its twin-turbo V8 engine, the great view from the cabin, and a sublime ride that felt more like a luxury car than a track speedster.
As for the rear seats which are essential for a “real” GT car, these will have to wait for the next SUV. Yes, after a decade of denials and a focus solely on sports and supercars, McLaren is now openly talking about a future family hauler.
But back to the GT, because the first miles – not the miles – pass in comfort and calm. The cabin is roomy for a car like this, the seats are supportive, noise levels are remarkably low, apart from some road roar from the tires, and the steering wheel – without a single button or knob – is beautifully designed and comfortable. I would have this wheel, luckily, on every car I drive.
Yes, I give it some crunches. And it tears. It’s not as gleefully moving as a Ferrari, or as outrageous as a Lamborghini, but it also doesn’t command attention like a Hemsworth running errands in Byron Bay.
And that’s what I love most about the GT.
It’s an everyday car that’s got comfort and class, with the ability to go as fast as you want – or dare – in a fun Sunday race.
Frustration? The satnav is worse than a base Hyundai and there’s no CarPlay, the brake pedal is too close to the accelerator for a left foot braker like me – something I complained about in the 12C – and access is predictably difficult.
But the ride is sublime in all conditions, you can go – literally – from mumble to supercar in seconds, and the styling lets you drive without attracting too much attention.
Better still, the time spent with the McLaren GT allows me to reset the road test bar for the dozens of other cars that follow, because everything needs a standard of excellence to concentrate the score.
Price: from $399,995
Engine: 4-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: 7-speed smooth, rear wheel drive
Position: Leggy supercar
We like: sober, ultra fast, suitable for commuting
Not so much: outdated infotainment, pedal position
THE TICK: every time if you have money